By DON MILNE

The big sales may hit the headlines, but not many people have the space to hang a major Hotere or Hammond - nor the $100,000-plus to buy them. One way to start a good collection at relatively little cost is with multiple works by well-regarded artists - screen-prints, lithographs and etchings.

Prices for works by artists such as Robin White, Pat Hanly, Philip Clairmont and Gordon Walters can be upwards of $2000 but many can be had for less than $1000, sometimes considerably less.

One artist whose works have a special New Zealand flavour is E. Mervyn Taylor. Born in Auckland in 1906, his training as a jewellery engraver gave him the skills to become an outstanding wood-engraver.

His distinctive small, black-and-white studies of plants and birds, Maori subjects and scenes illustrated many books, and strike a chord with most New Zealanders.

His reputation languished for some years after his death in 1964, perhaps because of the small scale of his works, which could often be picked up for $40 or $50. Not so now.

His bird studies are particularly popular. So, at Webb's sale a year ago of the collection of John Perry, former director of the Rotorua Museum and Art Gallery, a fine semi-abstract screen-print of a Maori woman in profile went for $400 (hammer price) while a wood engraving of a fantail sold for $700.

Cordy's last month had three Taylors for sale. A Taranaki landscape went for $475; a study of a bush snail for $800; and a pair of huia for $900. Add in 10 per cent buyers' premium and GST on the premium, and the latter work just topped the $1000 mark. Webb's have several Taylors in their affordable art sale tomorrow, estimated at from $150 to $700.

Interesting, too, will be the prices paid for works by Peter McIntyre at the International Art Centre's sale in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, on Thursday. Other works include a fine Don Binney of Te Henga, estimated at $50,000 to $70,000, yet another Blomfield of the Pink Terraces ($35,000-$50,000) and a Gordon Walters koru in blue, as well as the more usual black and white ($20,000-$30,000).

Coming up: Webb's affordable art auction (estimated values mostly between $100 and $5000) is tomorrow night, with jewellery on Wednesday and decorative arts on Thursday. Its final major art, jewellery and decorative arts sale for the year is on December 10-12 and includes what is described as "the most important Bill Hammond painting the market has seen in recent years".

The International Art Centre's sale on Thursday includes six works by J.B.C. Hoyte, plus a familiar watercolour of Kiri Te Kanawa by Raymond Ching (captured in many prints).

Cordy's next antique and art sale is on Monday and Tuesday next week, with the final sale for the year on December 10.

This month also sees two maritime sales to mark the America's Cup. Dunbar Sloane's, which includes 140 nautical paintings and more than 250 maritime objects, is at 2pm next Sunday.

Webb's 2000 lots, which include the Kelly Tarlton shipwreck museum and library and sporting memorabilia, are to be offered on November 25-26. And shiver me timbers, buyers will have the chance to bid for salvage rights to four sunken wrecks.

Finally, Dunbar Sloane appears to be acknowledging where the art money is. The 60 paintings for his December 4 sale will be shown first in Wellington but the sale will be in Auckland.